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The Old Corpus of the Montpellier Codex, the Bamberg Codex, and the motet portion of the La Clayette Codex (c.1250s-70s) are among the largest collections of ars antiqua motets, and represent a substantial portion of the surviving repertory. These collections, all thought to have originated in the Paris region within a relatively short historical window and with substantial similarities in content, reveal by both their similarities and differences what was considered the core of the genre by the immediate community, and what was not. Tracing the transmission of motets among these sources reveals that female motet voices—especially those that appear in entirely female-voice works, independent of male-voice accompaniment—remained localized, while male-voice motets enjoyed a greater degree of dissemination among the Parisian sources. Female-voice participation in the male-dominated space of the motet text appears to have flourished as a feature of local experimentation or expression, but faced resistance in becoming part of the central repertory. The presence of this experimentation, and its particular local characteristics, may reflect on the cultural values of the community that created and/or preserved the songs: comparing the female-voice motets in the Montpellier, Bamberg, and La Clayette manuscripts reveals a clear difference in the types of female voice that were most valued.

In: Female-Voice Song and Women’s Musical Agency in the Middle Ages
In: Musical Culture in the World of Adam de la Halle
In: Musical Culture in the World of Adam de la Halle
Volume Editors: and
This collection of seventeen essays newly identifies contributions to musical culture made by women before 1500 across Europe. You will learn about repertoire from such diverse locations as Iceland, Spain, and Italy, and encounter examples of musicianship from the gender-fluid professional musicians at the Islamicate courts of Syria to the nuns of Barking Abbey in England.
The book shows that women drove musical patronage, dissemination, composition, and performance, including within secular and ecclesiastical contexts, and also reflects on the reception of medieval women’s musical agency by both medieval poets and by modern recording artists.
Contributors are David Catalunya, Lisa Colton, Helen Dell, Annemari Ferreira, Rachel Golden, Gillian L. Gower, Anna Kathryn Grau, Carissa M. Harris, Louise McInnes, Lisa Nielson, Lauren Purcell-Joiner, Megan Quinlan, Leah Stuttard, Claire Taylor Jones, Melissa Tu, Angelica Vomera, and Anne Bagnall Yardley.